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Crimea, Kosovo, and double standards

BELGRADE -- The French daily Le Figaro has an article comparing reactions in western countries and their media to declarations of independence made by Crimea and Kosovo.

Source: Tanjug
Celebrations in Sevastopol (Beta/AP)

The conclusion the newspaper made is that "officials are applying double standards," while the media tend to "forget."

The article noted that Kosovo Albanians in their assembly, on February 17, 2008, declared as independent Kosovo - "a province of a state - of Serbia - which has been recognized as sovereign by the United Nations."

The unilateral declaration was then recognized by some EU members, while others - Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus - rejected it, which is still the case today, Le Figaro said.

Journalists were filing a great number of reports from Kosovo at the time, describing locals there as "crying tears of joy, collectively celebrating the declaration of independence," and writing about "the beaming faces that felt the relief, about freedom in action."

"Who then thought about interviewing several thousand Serbs who have lived withdrawn in villages surrounded by barbed wire and armored KFOR vehicles since 1999? Nobody, or almost nobody," said the article.

"Who let monks and nuns in local Orthodox churches and monasteries speak, those (churches) that had not yet been attacked and burned down by Albanian extremists dreaming about ethnic and religious cleansing - nobody, or almost nobody. Who is showing an interest in that minority population in Kosovo - nobody, or almost nobody."

Six years later, writes Le Figaro, Ukraine's southern province, Crimea, has declared its desire to separate from its state in a referendum, "like Kosovo did from Serbia," and asks whether officials from western countries will now "welcome this charming democratic move that has been approved by 96.6 percent of voters."

"Will television channels broadcast the same images of expressions of joy from Sevastopol and Simferopol as they used to from Priština and Prizren? Not quite," the daily concluded.

Instead, this time around, European officials claim that the right of the people in Crimea to self-determination is "illegal" and that it cannot be likened to the same right had by the people in Kosovo, and the right of Slovenians and Croats who declared independence in 1991, Bosnians in 1992, or Scots, who will likely do so in September of this year, notes the article.

"Some commentators are now speaking about the principle of inviolability of borders inherited from 1945, which was never mentioned in 2008. That is how the memory of the western media works," the French daily said.

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